Physiotherapists see a lot of painful necks! It is one of those areas of our body we use all the time and take for granted. And it can get injured, overused, and wear out with time, excess loading and poor posture. It can then cause pain, headaches, arm pain and a range of other symptoms such as vertigo and weakness.
Physiotherapy is important for a full assessment of the problem, to see whether it’s coming from your neck or elsewhere and to ensure a treatment plan is in place. A home program is vital and may consist of stretch and strength work which will help control neck pain and allow maintenance of chronic pain to minimise flare-ups. Chronic neck pain following whiplash injuries is common. The neck muscles are used every day all day and it is very difficult to rest these injured structures. Apart from normal movements, they are vitally important in maintaining your posture. Whiplash can leave a weakness in the neck and sometimes degenerative changes. Whiplash is quite a complicated injury often causing headaches, face pain, neck pain, pins and needles, weakness, limitations of movements and often depression.
Physiotherapy at a chronic stage should be twofold. First, the symptoms should settle down as quickly as is possible and then both the physiotherapist and the client must strive to ensure that the problem becomes manageable. It will probably not go away altogether, so strategies need to be devised in order to live and cope with the condition. This means regular exercise not only for the neck but also cardiovascular exercise, diet change, loss of weight if appropriate, posture adjustments and flare up strategies. The aim is to minimise flare-ups to prevent further damage.
Once pain is settled, ensure good neck health. Intermittent maintenance treatment by your local physiotherapist every 4-6 weeks may help to control symptoms and manage neck pain.